When Ben Zemanski arrived on the campus of the University of Akron, Head Coach Caleb Porter knew he had something special in his hometown recruit. Even though Zemanski was a standout at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA), he emerged as an unheralded prospect at the collegiate level. But Porter saw him as a player he could build the program around and that he did.
“Coming in I knew Ben had all of the intangible qualities,” Porter declared in a phone interview with ISN. “I knew he had the winning fiber.”
Zemanski would go to be a four year starter at Akron and finished his career there with 9 goals and 14 assists, while gathering an impressive list of accolades and awards. He would be named to the 2009 All-MAC Second Team and was a CoSida Academic All-American Third Team selection. He claimed the Zips’ Newcomer of the Year award in 2006 after showing great promise as a freshman.
Zemanski is now living the dream of thousands of young boys across North America: playing professional soccer in MLS. The second-year midfielder for Chivas USA has made an impact early and often in his young career as a pro.
In 2010, Zemanski played in 22 games, starting 17 and registering 1 assist in 1543 minutes under the helm of Head Coach Martín Vásquez. This year, the Akron alum is on track for even bigger numbers, starting 14 games and logging 1 goal and 2 assists in 1168 minutes.
He has become an integral part of new Chivas USA Head Coach Robin Fraser’s squad. “He has a great mentality for the game,” Fraser declared. “He is a very, very good young professional, who with his mentality will be a good professional for a long time.”
“He’s one of these people who embodies the environment we are trying to create here, which is that of no nonsense, hard work, don’t cut corners. He gives you everything he has every time he is on the field and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
Zemanski gives great credit to his college coach, U of A Head Coach Caleb Porter, for his development as a player and a person. “Caleb is great with his players,” Zemanski stated after Chivas USA’s 3-3 draw with the Columbus Crew. “His philosophy is to get the best out of everyone, help them excel to their highest potential. He has definitely done that in me and helped me out tremendously.”
Porter shares the same affection for Zemanski, his first recruit as head coach at Akron. “Ben did a lot to lay the foundation for us,” Porter continued. “He was one of my favorite players. It was very special to have Ben in the program.”
But perhaps his biggest fan is not surprisingly his younger brother Zach and father Dan, who shared his love for the beautiful game with Ben. Dan not only acts as an assistant men’s soccer coach at Hiram College, but also serves as a prominent youth soccer coach at Everest Soccer Club in Ravenna, Ohio. He has fostered the development of many young players, sending them on to successful collegiate careers.
Dan was proud of his son’s work on and off the field. “He is a role model, someone to look up to, someone to aspire to.” He admires Ben’s ability to give back and willingness to recognize young players that come out to see the team play.
Ben Zemanski has loads of potential to unearth, a scary thought considering Ben is only 23. What remains in his future is a matter of speculation, but everyone agrees it is something big. If he continues to develop and improve as a professional, there is really no ceiling. Playing in Europe, playing with the senior men’s national team, and becoming a household name are all possibilities, but one thing is certain: he has made Northeastern Ohio proud of one of its own.